The Health News Australia January 26 2018

  • The Federal Government is stepping up its efforts to improve the abysmally low survival rates for rare cancers and other diseases by boosting funding for medical research. It will invest $26 million in 19 clinical trials across the country that could lead to new and improved treatments for patients who often have few options and poor life expectancy. That is double the amount of money initially flagged by Health Minister Greg Hunt when he called for applications from clinicians and medical scientists last year.
  • Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has withdrawn from the Australian market its supply of the vaginal mesh device that is the subject of a class action before the federal court. On Tuesday a spokeswoman for Australia’s medical devices regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, confirmed to Guardian Australia that the mid-urethral vaginal sling devices, used to treat stress urinary incontinence in women, were no longer being imported.
  • A mental health watchdog has criticised an SA Government policy to fine hospital departments if they exceed waiting time targets, saying it is putting pressure on clinicians and taking resources out of key units. According to the policy, no patient should spend more than 24 hours in an emergency department waiting for a bed. The Government fines departments across the health system if they cannot free up a bed in time.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 26th of January 2018. Read by Tabetha Moreto.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-24/rare-cancer-research-on-radar-with-federal-government-funding/9355156

The Federal Government is stepping up its efforts to improve the abysmally low survival rates for rare cancers and other diseases by boosting funding for medical research. It will invest twenty six million dollars in nineteen clinical trials across the country that could lead to new and improved treatments for patients who often have few options and poor life expectancy.
That is double the amount of money initially flagged by Health Minister Greg Hunt when he called for applications from clinicians and medical scientists last year.
….
Rare cancers are collectively responsible for more than half of all cancer deaths in Australia each year but receive just twelve percent of the available research funding. Richard Vines from the advocacy group Rare Cancers Australia said: “You’re looking at essentially an epidemic and the lack of funding for both research and treatment is outrageous.”
….
Survival rates for more common cancers have improved dramatically over the past three decades thanks to a huge injection of money from governments, charities and philanthropists.
As a result, ninety per cent of breast cancer patients, for example, can now expect to live for at least five years after diagnosis.
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Australia’s biggest investor in cancer research is the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
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Mister Hunt said another thirty three million dollars will be spent on additional clinical trials through the Medical Research Future Fund in the two thousand eighteen and two thousand nineteen financial year.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jan/23/johnson-johnson-withdraws-pelvic-vaginal-mesh-device-from-australian-market

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson has withdrawn from the Australian market its supply of the vaginal mesh device that is the subject of a class action before the federal court.
On Tuesday a spokeswoman for Australia’s medical devices regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, confirmed to Guardian Australia that the mid-urethral vaginal sling devices, used to treat stress urinary incontinence in women, were no longer being imported.

The devices are produced by the Johnson and Johnson company Ethicon and no longer appear on the Australian Therapeutic Goods Register, which is a list of products that can be lawfully supplied in Australia. The TGA has not responded to questions about whether the removal of the products from the register also means that products already on hospital shelves cannot be used by surgeons.

The TGA asked all manufacturers of transvaginal sling and mesh devices to update the “instructions for use” on transvaginal mesh and tape products before January seventeen to include information about possible adverse events such as severe chronic pain, groin pain and bladder perforation.

According to the TGA, Johnson and Johnson did not meet this deadline and withdrew the supply of their devices to enable them to consider their options. A list of pharmaceutical companies that have met the new requirements has been made public.
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Similar class actions involving thousands of women are also under way in the UK and US. More than one hundred thousand transvaginal mesh lawsuits have been filed in the US, the largest number against Johnson and Johnson, the manufacturer of the most commonly used meshes. Shine Lawyers alleges Johnson & Johnson failed to properly test the devices and played down their risk to both surgeons and patients.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-24/hospital-fines-policy-under-fire-from-health-watchdog/9354336

A mental health watchdog has criticised a South Australia Government policy to fine hospital departments if they exceed waiting time targets, saying it is putting pressure on clinicians and taking resources out of key units. According to the policy, no patient should spend more than twenty four hours in an emergency department waiting for a bed. The Government fines departments across the health system if they cannot free up a bed in time.

The Government has said that, since the introduction of the target, waiting times for mental health patients in emergency departments have halved. But in his annual report, principal community visitor Maurice Corcoran questioned the value in repeatedly imposing one thousand dollars of fines on the adult mental health unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
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Mister Corcoran said the improvement in ED waiting times was welcome, but it was creating problems downstream.
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The Opposition last year accused the State Government of ‘gagging’ the principal community visitor, after Mister Corcoran apologised for publishing a reduced annual report, saying he’d been forced to adhere to a Government template. But Mister Corcoran said those issues have now been resolved, with the Government tabling a special report in Parliament, allowing him to include additional information.

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